Let's talk just a minute about testimony. After hearing 206 missionaries stand up and make an expression, I finally came to the realization that we had heard 205 talks and only one testimony.
The responses went something like this: "I'm grateful to be a missionary. I'm glad to be on a mission. I have a great companion. I love my companion. I've had good companions all the time. We had a great experience last week. We were tracting (and so on), and so you see how grateful I am to be on a mission. I have a testimony of this gospel. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
These missionaries had talked about testimony, but they had talked around and through it, underneath it and over it, but never to it. It was marvelous what happened when we were able to show them how one bears testimony.
…Teach our young people to bear their testimonies instead of saying they have testimonies and then not saying what they are. Teach them to bear direct witness.
While a witness may come from hearing a testimony borne by another, I am convinced that the witness comes when the Spirit of the Lord falls upon a man or woman when he or she is bearing testimony personally. Teach them to bear testimony. If they don't have a testimony it may come when they start bearing it.
I have seen one or two brethren even in our program who are very hesitant about bearing testimony. They get so concerned about knowledge, and they say: "Well, I don't really know that! I don't know whether I can say it." Well, you never will know until you say it. It isn't that seeing is believing; it's that believing is seeing. Can't you see where it is hidden?
The skeptic, the sophisticate, the experimenter, the insincere never take that step and bear a testimony, and the witness is therefore held from them.
Teach our young people to bear testimony—to bear testimony that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon is true, that we lived before we came here, that Christ died to redeem us, and that He is the Son of God.
As they testify of those things the Holy Ghost will bear witness in their hearts, and it will be compounded a thousandfold more powerfully than if they just listen to a witness borne by others.
Teach our youth to bear testimony—direct, specific witness. I'm not offended at the testimony of little children who stand up and say, "I know." Some people criticize that, but it is the kindergarten of all spiritual learning.
Teach our youth to bear witness and testimony, for therein they conform to a principle that opens the door so that great confirmation can come. As keepers of the faith, teach them to bear witness, to bear testimony.
Teach them to bear witness a little ahead, maybe, of what they know, for in this they will get a confirmation.
Address given by Boyd K. Packer to the Department of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion at BYU, July 17, 1968 ("Keeper of the Faith"). Reprinted in his book: Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, p. 153-155.
"I remember how my father taught me of his testimony with the fingers of his hand:
1. God is our loving Father in Heaven. 2. His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer. 3. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and he was the instrument through which the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth and the Book of Mormon was translated. 4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's Church on the earth today. 5. This Church is led by a living prophet who receives revelation."